First line: Louise thought it might not go well, so she told her parents she was pregnant over the phone, from three thousand miles away, in San Francisco.
Summary: Louise is going back to her childhood home after the tragic death of her parents. She has rarely returned and is dreading the reunion with her brother, Mark. The two have never gotten along and from the moment she arrives in Charleston it appears that nothing has changed. As they prepare their parent’s home for sale they have to clear out years of memories and hundreds of dolls and puppets. Her mother spent years creating puppets for her ministry work and now they have been left to Louise.
However, the cleaning out of these items is trickier than she expected. Dolls keep reappearing after being thrown away. Eyes seem to follow her as she walks through the house. And the appearance of Pupkin, her mother’s oldest puppet brings back nightmares from their past. It appears that the house has other plans for Mark and Louise.
My Thoughts: This book was frightening. Dolls and puppets are creepy! And this helps reinforce that belief. I plowed through this book in just 3 days. I was splitting time listening to it and reading it. I found that I kept wanting to listen/read just a little bit more. At one point I thought the story had come to a natural end but then Hendrix throws another twist into the mix making it even more sinister.
Even though I really enjoyed it there were some parts I found a little odd or annoying. Some parts of the brother/sister relationship made me angry especially after their experiences together in the house. And the very end was a little underwhelming. I don’t want to spoil it but I kind of wished it had finished a little earlier in the story or in a different way.
If you find dolls scary then this may or may not be the book for you depending on if you want to be scared or not. It gave me chills at moments. Enter at your own risk.
First line: Blood-sodden, the girl staggers into the black.
Summary: A young man is found murdered in his houseboat in Regent’s Canal. As the police look into what happened they focus on three women. The young woman with whom he had a one night stand, the grief stricken aunt and the nosy neighbor. Each one has their own dark pasts with lots of mistakes. And their own reasons to kill.
My Thoughts: This book started great! It felt like it was going to be an exciting story with lots of twists. And it was fun but so much of it seemed to not matter to the whole storyline. Miriam especially seemed like she was just an addition to get the book to a certain page count. Plus there was lots of characters at the beginning. Keeping track of them while listening to the audio version made it hard to keep track of the plot.
I did enjoy the relationship between Irene and Laura. Seeing two women who are lonely and very different be friends and support each other is heartwarming in a murder mystery. I felt bad for both of them throughout the book because of the prejudices against them by society.
I was not surprised by who the killer was. It seemed rather obvious from the beginning as we learn the women’s backstories. With each one we see the connections and can figure out how the story will play out. Especially if you have read other thrillers. But I will say I still had fun reading it and would recommend it.
Summary: Belmont Academy is the best school in town. It churns out smart and well connected students to Ivy League universities. Teddy Crutcher, an English teacher, has just won Teacher of the Year. It is a high honor, especially for someone who did not attend Belmont as a student. And as a teacher he has high hopes for his students. He wants the ones who deserve to do well to achieve great things but he must teach the students who are entitled to learn a lesson. For their own good of course. When a parent dies at a school function the Belmont community is thrown into chaos. But then another murder happens. What is going on in this prestigious school?
My Thoughts: This is fine. I liked it. The characters were mostly terrible people. They each had such strong opinions about everyone else around them and were not afraid to act on their urges. Teddy was definitely scary in a calm methodical way. He could always justify his actions. But he also seemed to make sense in some of the things he thought which is even scarier.
I felt like the book was aimed more for young adult readers. And this may be because several of the main characters were teenagers. It felt like it was missing something that her other novels had which led me to give them a higher rating.
There were plenty of little twists but the reader knows from the very beginning who is killing. It was fun to read. And the ending was satisfying. Perfect for the story and the characters involved.
First line of the book: I never know what condition she’ll be in when I arrive at the hospital – if she’ll lucid, rambling, awake, sleeping, in an altered state, or gone.
Summary and Thoughts:
Joanne Vannicola went through a life of trauma and pain before reaching stardom. All of her childhood resurfaces once her abusive mother is on her deathbed. Vannicola’s life was a tale of eating disorders enabled by her mother, abuse from both of her parents, and sibling bonds torn apart from everything going on. Vannicola also delves into her sexuality, especially when she is entering young adulthood, from small crushes to the people she dated. She doesn’t leave out any part of her life so one can see the bad choices she makes in her life and how her upbringing influenced her growth. Vannicola goes back and forth between the past and present. The little things that her mother says or does currently sourly reminds Vannicola of her troubled family life.
I found myself to be easily lost in her world as Vannicola goes into deep detail of her setting and her strong emotions at the time. Anyone who has had a difficult upbringing will relate to the several ways that Joanne Vannicola tried to forget her living situation, especially during her younger years. My favorite one was the children’s obsession with music and always listening to it together in secret since I like to lose myself in music. I also did find some parts difficult and uncomfortable to read as I am a sensitive person. I believe this read is necessary for that reason; when I felt uncomfortable, I realized the points she was trying to make. If I felt horrible or angry then no doubt Vannicola felt it tenfold and would explain her problematic behavior, which I often got frustrated with. Overall, this book brought me a perspective that I usually find hard to think about.
I caution others that there are strong themes of abuse (self or to others), prostitution, sexual references, underage-drinking, and drugs. The author doesn’t hold back detail when it comes to these things.
*This book can be found via Hoopla or through Interlibrary Loan.*
First line: The ramshackle warehouse was on the wrong side of the river, the south side, where the buildings jostled for space and the little boats unloaded pocket-size cargos for scant profit.
Summary: Twenty-two years have passed since the events at Foulmire. Alinor and Alys have established themselves in a warehouse along the Thames with a decent income from sailors and merchants. But on the same day two people happen into their lives that will change it once again. Sir James who has spent years in exile is looking for his child. And Rob’s widow from Venice arrives with their young son. The women try to deal with these changes the best they can.
On the other side of the ocean, in New England, Ned has traveled in the hopes of starting a new life where he is free and far from the reaches of the King he hates. But even with an ocean between his old and new life he finds that things are still the same. He has befriended the native people and learned much from them but he is looked down upon for this from his fellow Englishman. He is stuck between two worlds and doesn’t know which side to choose.
My Thoughts: Once again Philippa Gregory writes a stunning book! I loved this just as much as the first one in the trilogy but for different reasons. The first part was very character driven and where the landscape plays an important role. This one is more plot driven but has strong characters and amazing locations. From the very beginning I was strongly invested in the story. At one point I had to put the book down because I was so frustrated with the characters.
I loved being back with Alinor even though she was not the main character anymore. This centered more on her brother, daughter and granddaughter. A new generation of the Reekie family in a new time. The picture of these poor women striving for a living along the Thames is perfectly done. And then we visit Venice in the second half of the story. I can picture the canals, gondolas, and beautiful buildings. I visited Venice years ago and loved the city on the water.
Ned’s life in New England reminded me so much of Gregory’s book, Virgin Earth, with her beautiful descriptions of the forests of America before the settlers cleared the lands. The plants, the people and wildness of the land comes alive in her telling. It is so hard to read about the past at times when you see all the injustices that were done. Settlers took advantage of the natives and treated them terribly.
First line: It’s the cooling bathwater that wakes me.
Livia has been planning her fortieth birthday party for twenty years.
She wants it to be perfect. Everything is in place and it looks like it
is going to be a beautiful day. She does not want anything to spoil it.
But she has a secret she has been keeping from her husband. She knows
she should tell him but she doesn’t want to ruin the day. So she decides
to wait until after the party.
Adam, Livia’s husband, wants
Livia to have a great birthday especially since she has been planning it
for so long. He has a big surprise for her but when he learns something
that may ruin her life he has a dilemma on whether to tell her or wait
until after the party.
My Thoughts: This wasn’t a thriller
in the traditional sense. No one is murdered. It is just lots of
miscommunication and secrets that cause problems throughout the plot. I
really enjoyed it. I was very anxious about how it would end. I made
myself not look at the end so I didn’t find out what happened. It was
hard not to. I needed to know. This is a book that I really had to put
down so I could sleep. Even after that I kept thinking about it. So
immediately I had to finish it in the morning.
I did get a
little annoyed with the characters and their misunderstandings. So many
secrets involved in this. Lots of messed up relationships. But it gave
the book a lot of shock factors. I know I gasped a few times. B. A.
Paris is a really good author for a fast paced thrill ride. Give her
books a try if you haven’t already!
First line: Katheryn was seven when her mother died.
Katheryn Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, lead a very scandalous
life before her marriage. She grew up as a charity case, living off of
the kindness of family. However, she got the great chance of living with
her step-grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. While there she
meets several men who she falls quickly in and out of love with. And
then one day she earns a place among Queen Anna of Kleves household
which puts her in the path of the King. She is delighted but when the
King sets his sights on her she begins to worry that her past will catch
up with her.
My Thoughts: I have enjoyed all of Weir’s
Six Wives books. I think she did a great job bringing Katheryn’s story
to life. Unfortunately the girl made some terrible mistakes and had to
pay for them so dearly. I learned more about her earlier life. I was
fairly familiar with her time in the Duchess’ household and in Henry’s
court but before that was a mystery to me.
It’s sad that she was
pushed around from house to house. It makes it easy for me to see why
she was constantly looking for someone to love and love her back. Out of
all the women I think her story is the saddest. She was so young. She
was being maneuvered by her family into the King’s life. She had very
little choice over her life. I am looking forward to the final novel
about Katherine Parr.
FYI: There are several intimate scenes throughout her story.
First line: The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.
In 1982 Viv Delaney is hitchhiking through New York when she is dropped
off at the Sun Down Motel. That night she is offered the job of the
night clerk for the motel. On her first nights she learns that not
everything is as it seems at the Sun Down. The strong smell of
cigarettes, doors opening and closing on their own and ghostly voices
around every corner. Then one night in November Viv disappears without a
Flash forward to 2017, Carly Kirk travels to the town of
Fell, New York to find out what really happened to her aunt who
disappeared from the Sun Down Motel in 1982.
This was so much fun!! I read it in just 2 days. I loved the old motel,
the people and the mystery. I always drive by old motels and wonder who
actually stops there. This answered it for me. St. James’ descriptions
of the place are just eerie. It is a place stuck in a time bubble. I can
easily imagine the smell of the old smoke, the dirty carpets and the
old bedspreads. Add to the creepy hotel a few ghosts and you have the
recipe for a perfect story. The first time that Viv sees the woman it
gave me chills.
FYI: If you love a good ghost story than this is for you!
Rasmira has been training for years to be a warrior and gain her
father’s approval. On the day of her trial she is sabotaged and
sentenced to banishment in the wild until she completes a task set by
the council. No one ever returns from the wild. However, Rasmira is
determined to finish her mission and take revenge on the people who
caused her downfall. But how do you kill a god?
Tricia Levenseller can write a really fun novel! There is no big world
building or complicated story lines. It is straight to the point and
loads of fun to read. I immediately was hooked on Rasmira’s story. I
liked how tough she was. I truly felt sorry for her when she is sent
into the wild. Everything that she thought she knew was destroyed. I
enjoyed her interactions and friendship with Iric and Soren. They are
destined to be friends but it takes a lot for Rasmira to accept them due
to past prejudices.
This book really reminded me of The Valiant by Lesley Livingston. There was a lot of action and it was a quick read.
Nina dreamed of becoming a pilot. When the German army attacks her
native Russia, she enlists to help her country fight its invaders. As
one of the all-female bomber regiment called the Night Witches, she gets
her wish. Until one day when she goes down behind enemy lines and
encounters the evil villainous known as the Huntress.
spent the war years as a war correspondent. He everything from the
invasion of Omaha Beach to the Nuremburg Trials but he is determined to
find and bring to justice one person, the Huntress. With a personal
vendetta against the war criminal he joins an organization tasked with
finding members of the Nazi party that escaped punishment.
McBride is a young girl and aspiring photographer in 1946. Her father
recently married a mysterious Austrian widow but her story makes Jordan
suspicious. The more she learns the less she trusts her. She is
determined to find out who this woman is in order to protect her father.
Told in three narratives we piece together the story of the Huntress.
From the very first chapter I was hooked. I have been a longtime fan of
Kate Quinn and her newest novel does not disappoint. I think I can even
say with confidence that it is her best book to date. I loved the
different timelines and how each intertwine. This would be perfect for
fans of historical fiction and mysteries.
Nina was by far my
favorite character. She is strong woman but also has a deep seeded fear.
I enjoyed seeing her change and grow throughout the story. She starts
as a poor girl from eastern Russia who dreams of becoming a pilot. As
the war progresses she discovers more about herself and the country she
serves. I learned so much while reading her chapters. I had never heard
of female bomber teams during World War II. Even though Russia has a
history of being behind the times, this is a very progressive stance.
And for them to be highly decorated after the war for their courage.
Read the author’s notes at the end for more background on the story. You can tell that Quinn did a lot of research to build her narrative.
FYI: This reminded me a lot of the new release movie, Operation Finale, starring Oscar Isaac. It follows the search and capture of Adolph Eichmann, the mastermind behind the Holocaust.